Performance Summary & Conclusion
Performance Summary: The XPS 730x H2C performed very well in our suite of performance benchmarks. Judging from our results, it is clear that the update to Core i7 provides a considerable performance advantage over the older Core 2-based offerings. In all of the CPU intensive benchmarks, the XPS 730x took the top spot thanks to its Core i7-965 Extreme processor factory overclocked to 3.73GHz.
Performance in games was also fantastic. Our review sample was equipped with a single GeForce GTX 280 which was at a natural disadvantage to the Crossfire and SLI systems we put it up against, but it still managed to fare very well. In several instances, the XPS 730x was even able to outperform some of the multi-GPU systems due to its massive increases in CPU horsepower and memory bandwidth.
Overall, the XPS 730x, like the 730 that came before it, is a great performer. The new update to Core i7 has helped increase performance drastically over the Core 2 Extreme processor used in the original XPS 730s and once again puts it at the top of our benchmark heap.
The update to Intel's new Core i7 architecture is certainly the star of the show. While the original XPS 730 was far from slow and we had no complaints about performance during our original review, the update to Core i7 has brought a significant performance boost, and who can argue with that? Thankfully it doesn't seem like Dell has increased the price despite the technology update, as the XPS 730x occupies the same price range as its predecessor. Granted, the XPS 730 was pretty pricey to start with but that is a rather moot point when it comes to systems of this caliber. While you will be able to save some cash by building your own rig, considering the quality of the chassis, cooling and components and the time and costs of assembly, the XPS 730x is still fairly priced.
All of the features we have come to like about the XPS 700 series over the years have not been tampered with for the XPS 730x update. The excellent second generation H2Ceramic hybrid liquid cooling system is still being offered as an optional alternative to standard air cooling and so is factory overclocking. Like with previous models, the factory overclocking for the XPS 730x is completely covered by the default manufacturer warranty. In fact, the warranty has been extended from just 1 year when we last reviewed a XPS 700 series system, to 3 years parts & labor with in-home service (for the H2C models).
For the XPS 730x update, Dell hasn't messed with the excellent XPS 730 series chassis. It is still the huge, heavy, aggressive brute we liked so much in the past. While it is very bulky, the chassis features excellent build quality, strong heavy duty materials and a great internal layout. It is very well behaved and produced very little noise considering the caliber of components it was cooling. The chassis is also built to accept standard off-the-shelf components and it's completely ATX and ESA compliant. That means you can reuse the chassis well after the components have become outdated.
The only change to the chassis is the welcome addition of Theater Lighting, Dell's innovative internal work lighting feature. We found the Theater Lighting system did its job surprisingly well considering it is nothing more than a few white LEDs hooked up to two AA batteries. The LEDs are positioned well and provide plenty of lighting inside the chassis and even in complete darkness we didn't need a flashlight to perform standard installation and maintenance tasks. The system is so simple and works so well, it's a wonder no one else is doing it.
The thermal monitoring and LED control systems have also been improved compared to the original 730. The addition of the new XPS Thermal Monitor utility and some borrowed tech from Alienware in the form of the AlienFX editor has really made monitoring and controlling the system's various thermal, and lighting sub-systems a snap. We also liked the new Dell Dock which is a significant improvement over the Windows Sidebar widgets offered for the original XPS 730.
Overall, the XPS 730x is a worthy update to what we thought was the best XPS 700 series system to date. In our evaluation of the original XPS 730, we said it was a very mature product, the new XPS 730x only builds on this with further refinement. The new update brings a host of subtle improvements and a major shift in technology, all of which have proven to be assets rather than detriments. With the XPS 730x, Dell has really put some extra polish on an already great product and we have no trouble awarding it our Editor's Choice award. We heartily recommend anyone in the market for a high-end gaming / multimedia computer take a long, hard look at the XPS 730x, it may just be what you are looking for.